Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

Ferrara (Italy) — ca. 1474–1479

The secret kings of Italy: the story of one of the most powerful Italian noble families in wonderful portraits

  1. This genealogy traces the history of the Este, one of the oldest noble families in Italy, back to the year 951

  2. Every page of the manuscript features portraits of its members in the form of medallions

  3. The full-page portrait of Borso d’Este (1413–71) shows him in gorgeous red-gold garments with scepter in hand

Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

The Genealogy of the D’Este Princes was created between 1474 and 1479. It was made by an artist of the court of the Este, one of the most important Italian noble families. The work boasts 169 excellent portraits of rulers and important members of the House of Este in watercolors with luminous and shimmering backgrounds.

Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

An illuminated manuscript originated in the Italian city of Ferrara between 1474 and 1479, which illustrated the family tree of the noble House of Este in splendid colors and shimmering gold. The Genealogy of the D’Este Princes consists of 169 portraits of princes and senior members of the House of Este, from the noble family’s beginnings up to the turn of the 16th century. An artist employed at the Este court was most likely responsible for the design of the illuminated manuscript. The work was divided into multiple fragments in the 17th century. Today, the majority of the manuscript is stored in Modena. Four double pages of the precious manuscript are found today in the Italian National Library in Rome.

High Nobility of Italy

The ruling family of Este is one of the oldest noble families in Italy. Their family tree goes back to the year 951. Alberto Azzo II was the first Vicar of Ferrara. Since 1482, his descendants, Borso, Ercole, and Alfonso I among them, ruled the Italian cities of Ferrara Modena as dukes. The House of Este produced some of most popular patrons and lovers of arts during the Renaissance Isabella d'Este-Gonzaga, the Grand Dame of the Renaissance among them. The genealogy celebrated the fame and glory of the great ruling house in splendid pictures.

The Portraits of the Princes

The Este family record was planned so that every page of the manuscript features nine pictures, which show the portraits of its members in the form of busts encompassed in medallions. A few of the pages are incomplete. The portraits were painted in fine watercolors, with a background that is sometimes deep blue, sometimes gold. The golden background was used for ruling princes. Text with biographical information of the person depicted is found under the portraits. The portrait of Borso d’Este was created with special care. The full-page depiction shows the Regent standing on grass in gorgeous red-gold garments with scepter in hand. This emphasized the special role of the leader of the d’Este family.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Genealogia dei Principi d'Este
Genealogie der Prinzen von Este
Size / Format
24 pages / 32.0 × 25.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
ca. 1474–1479
Language
Previous Owners
Cardinal Alexander d'Este
Teatini Order

Available facsimile editions:
Genealogy of the D’Este Princes – a.L.5.16 = Ital. 720 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 1996
Limited Edition: 333 copies
Detail Picture

Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

The Muschi

This branch of the Estes lived in the region of Lugano, specifically the region connecting Vedeggio to Bidogno, Malcontone, and Breno, on the border between modern Italy and Switzerland. The dashing gentleman in the upper-left corner with flowing brown hair and a well-maintained beard is identified as Rinaldo d’Este, the Marquis of Ferrara, who died as a prisoner in Apulia in the year 1251 after unsuccessfully opposing the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.

Genealogia dei Principi d'Este
Single Page

Genealogy of the D’Este Princes

Portrait of Borso d’Este

169 members of the House of Este are presented in medallion miniatures, nine per page, except for the great Borso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara and Modena. A full-page miniature is dedicated to Borso, an indication of the role he played in both expanding their domains as well as ennobling his family by working to establish the antiquity of their roots.

This fine portrait depicts Borso in profile standing on a patch of grass and wearing a garish red hat, chemise, and tights. His outer robe is depicted with gold leaf, as is the scepter of his rule, which he holds with white gloves. A jeweled pendant is pinned to his chest, another is on the brim of his hat – just two of the details in this masterful depiction of a Renaissance prince.

Genealogia dei Principi d'Este
Facsimile Editions

#1 Genealogia dei Principi d'Este

Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 1996
Genealogy of the D’Este Princes – a.L.5.16 = Ital. 720 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy)
Genealogy of the D’Este Princes – a.L.5.16 = Ital. 720 – Biblioteca Estense Universitaria (Modena, Italy) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 1996
Limited Edition: 333 copies
Binding: Blue velvet stamped with the Este coat-of-arms embossed in gold. Comes with the commentary volume in a blue cloth case.
Commentary: 1 volume (208 pages) by Ernesto Milano, Francesca Niutta, Margherita Maria Breccia Fratadocchi, and Mauro Bini
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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